THE BEACH AT PAINTER’S COVE: A Pretty Picture of Family Dysfunction

The Beach at Painter’s Cove

Author Shelley Noble
Narrated by Erin Bennett
Published by Tantor Audio
Publication date Jun 13, 2017
Running time 12 hrs 4 min

I voluntarily reviewed an advance readers copy of this book. No remuneration was exchanged and all opinions presented herein are my own except as noted.


The Whitaker family’s Connecticut mansion, Muses by the Sea, has always been a haven for artists, a hotbed of creativity, extravagances, and the occasional scandal. Art patrons for generations, the Whitakers supported strangers but drained the life out of each other. Now, after being estranged for years, four generations of Whitaker women find themselves once again at the Muses.

Leo, the Whitaker matriarch, lives in the rambling mansion. She plans to stay there until she joins her husband, Wes, on the knoll overlooking the cove and meadow where they first met.

Jillian is a jet-setting actress, down on her luck. She thinks selling the Muses will make life easier for her mother, Leo, by moving her into assisted living.

Issy, Jillian’s daughter, has a successful life as a museum exhibit designer that takes her around the world. But the Muses and her grandmother are the only family she’s known, and when her sister leaves her own children with Leo, Issy knows she has to step in to help.

Steph is only twelve years old and desperately needs someone to fire her imagination and bring her out of her shell. What she begins to discover at the Muses could change the course of her future.


My Take Oblong Shaped


This reminded me of a the kind of play where someone young throws themselves onto the stage in a tantrum, but it also has comic relief: think ARSENIC AND OLD LACE, meets ALL ABOUT EVE with a little MOMMIE DEAREST thrown in from the world of cinema. 

The four generations of this family must be loosely called that until the end as one generation has hardly seen their mother and the next has never met their grandmother, Jillian.  She’s a famous, but aging, actress down on her luck and out of cash.  The oldest generation here is from the hippy era of the sixties, but it often feels more like the Gatsbys.   I found the family situation somewhat contrived – a Hollywood star dumping her kids on their grandparents would have gotten a lot of publicity, and I  can’t recall hearing, nor can I find more than a few lines about their actor father.  The family saga is a little overextended with generations of messy romance, marriage and money mismanagement.

I almost put the story down because at the start it is all over the place  and time with these women and their children, but it eventually gelled. As a “museum” person and artist  I stuck it out for the sake of the topic. But, I did find it confusing as it jumped around.

The narration is very good, the voices are age appropriate but the one Italian accent is a bit over done since the guy has been in the US since his teens and he says things like goodnight instead of “buona notte.”  He often calls Isabel, “Cara” but that is part of his art-museum-world affectation.  If I can only find one flaw that’s amazing.

If you like a family drama, covering every age from 8 to 80, with romance but not a lot of steam, then this is for you.  What’s more romantic than a bunch of artsy types, an old mansion, and the beach?!

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